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Trust in mass media falling in most Arab countries: NU-Q study

Trust in mass media falling in most Arab countries: NU-Q study

Tribune News Network
Doha
TRUST in mass media in most Arab countries is falling, says the latest study by Northwestern University (NU-Q)
in Qatar.
According to NU-Q’s sixth annual Middle East Media Use survey conducted on its interactive website, mideastmedia.org, the trust in mass media among Jordanian and Tunisian nationals dropped to 42 and 39 percent
respectively in 2018.
As many as 7,635 respondents from seven countries including Saudi Arabia (KSA), United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Tunisia took part in the survey.
The full report, in English and Arabic, will be released
in March.
“NU-Q’s annual media usage surveys are widely cited by scholars, industry experts, and other thought leaders who seek to explain regional developments to a broader audience,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of NU-Q. “Mideastmedia.org is an easily searchable, information-rich website for policy-makers, media professionals and institutional leaders wanting to better understand a rapidly changing Middle East media environment. We believe the latest survey findings are illuminating and, in some cases, surprising.”
The study points out that more than half of Arab nationals admit coming across political news stories online they think are mostly made up, either sometimes or often. Roughly three-quarters of Qataris, Lebanese, and Saudis say they come across patently false news items sometimes or often—similar to the rate in the United States (74%).
According to the study, more Saudi and Emirati internet users worry about online surveillance, either by companies (62%, 61%) or government (58%, 47%), compared to others. For example, only 16 percent of Qatari internet users are concerned about either online corporate or government surveillance. In contrast, 67 percent of Americans worry about corporate surveillance and 57 percent government surveillance.
The study says that Arab nationals are more likely now than in 2014 to say films and TV content from the US and Europe are good for morality. Meanwhile, considerably fewer nationals say films and TV from Arab countries are good for morality.
The percentage of VPN (Virtual Private Network) users spiked in Qatar (from 6% in 2016 to 39% in 2018) and Saudi Arabia (7% in 2016 to 54% in 2018), among internet users. In Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Tunisia, that figure remains at 10 percent
or less.
Among social media and messaging apps, 29 percent of nationals said WhatsApp provides the most privacy, although one in four (23%) said no platform affords privacy, the report ads.
Smartphone ownership rates are among the highest in the world, with ownership percentages higher in almost all surveyed countries than in the United States, where it is 77 percent. Nearly 100 percent of nationals in Qatar and UAE own a smartphone, as do more than nine in ten in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.
Binge-watching is also on the rise, with the most dramatic increase in Qatar where 54 percent report doing so in 2018, compared to only 24 percent in 2016.
Soccer/football is by far the most popular sport to watch on TV or online. Two thirds of nationals reported watching soccer in the last 12 months (64 percent), likely influenced by the 2018 FIFA World Cup (watched by 63 percent of nationals).
NU-Q’s annual media use survey – Media Use in the Middle East – is the only one of its kind in the region and one of the few such efforts in the world. The project receives funding from Qatar National Research Fund and the Doha Film Institute.

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